Summer Camping Trips

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August 30th 2009
Published: August 31st 2009
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Laying foundationLaying foundationLaying foundation

Cultural expert lays the foundation in traditional style for west African mud hut.
There are some who might think we haven’t done any camping this summer or gone anywhere. Well, with high gas prices last year, that was true. But we have gotten out this year and gone places. Most were weekend trips with the Good Sam group, though we have gone elsewhere. We were supposed to be camping this weekend, but our surrogate granddaughter couldn’t get away to go camping and to the water park near Williamsburg, so we cancelled and stayed home, prepping the RV for the next big trip.

In early July we joined the Good Sam So-We-Go chapter for a weekend of camping in Staunton, VA in the Shenandoah Valley. It was a Hawaiian celebration weekend and all wore Aloha shirts, leis, and our meals had a distinctive Hawaiian flavor. We took teriyaki wings and poi. Poi, if you have ever had it, is a gluttonous paste that is best eaten with pork. It is NOT a stand alone dish. We got store bought tapioca pudding with very small tapioca, colored it purple (like poi) and served it in a wooden bowl. It was interesting to see who was adventurous and who recognized it for what it was. On
English home from 1600English home from 1600English home from 1600

This home came from England and was originally built in the 1600s. It's how our ancestors lived in that part of the world prior to coming to America.
the Saturday of our visit, we took a side trip to the Shenandoah Frontier Life Museum in Staunton. This work in progress honored those who had lived and developed the valley, from Native Americans to Scotch-Irish to the slaves from western Africa. Homes were brought from Germany, England and Ireland that were actually from the various eras, and a craftsman from western Africa was supervising the building of an authentic native village as might have existed in the 1700’s in Africa. Interpreters in period dress in the houses explained how people lived, ate, and prospered. It was a fascinating step back in time. There were also 3 homes built in the style of the settlers, from a crude log home of the early 1700’s to a more established home of the late 1700’s and finally a valley home from the 1850’s (much as one would have seen prior to the Civil War.)

In late July, we went with the Lodges to the Gloucester Point Family Campground in Hayes, VA. This is near Yorktown. We had each won a free night camping at one of the RV shows this past winter. We got there in a gloomy, windy afternoon and
Irish home from early 1700sIrish home from early 1700sIrish home from early 1700s

This home was also originally built in Ireland and moved to the museum. It represents and shows the conditions the Irish lived in prior to immigrating to America.
made ready for rain we knew was coming. I even tied down the awning with special ratchet lines and springs to keep it from flying away. (Good thing, too, because the wind got really strong!) We were camped in one of the newer sections which was near the water but didn’t have the protection of trees. That night the rains came and the wind whipped. In the morning, we had over 2 inches of water outside our door. After picking up chairs and moving them a bit, a staff member came with some buckets of gravel and put around the entrance to the camper so we didn’t get soaked coming and going. Lodges didn’t get in until Saturday morning and after setting up, we went for lunch in Yorktown at what turned out to be a Biker Bar that had excellent seafood sandwiches. The more sedate places recommended were not open until evening, so that was fine. Trish and I spent a lot of time in the pool keeping cool and that evening, we had our traditional Smores with Lodges. Sunday we packed up and left and got on the road just before the next round of rain showers came
1850s homestead in the valley1850s homestead in the valley1850s homestead in the valley

This recently built home represents accurately how the settlers in pre-Civil War Virginia lived and farmed. Having just seen the story of Charlie Anderson in "Shenandoah", it was awe inspiring to think of the folks back then who farmed the valley to feed the troops and then left to fight for their state (not their country). Well worth the visit.

Finally, in early August we went with the So-We-Gos camping again. This time it was close by near Kings Dominion Amusement Park. Trish and I had no desire to go on the coasters and rides. But we had a nice campsite with our group with trees around and relaxed and swapped stories with one another. On Saturday, Trish and I rode to the Mattaponi Indian Reservation in West Point, VA. Here we toured the small museum and saw remnants of a canoe that was over 400 years old, regalia from 300 years ago (a beautiful deerskin dress with beads), a necklace worn by Pocahontas, and the war club supposedly that would have based John Smith’s skull. The Mattaponi were a tribe under Powhatten, chief of the combined nation, and the father of Pocahontas. The reservation is one of the oldest in the nation and is today a very small village/collection of homes in a small area along the river. It was a fascinating look at a portion of history most of us know very little of.
After our trip to the reservation we came back to our group and had another bountiful potluck dinner. We were so full,
Damp EntranceDamp EntranceDamp Entrance

Water was over 2" deep after the rain. Fortunately, we got some gravel to give a base, but the grass was damp all weekend.
we had no room for Smores that night. We left on Sunday and came back, our only disappointment being that the pool at the campground would not let us use our noodles in the pool because they were also not allowed at the Kings Dominion Waterpark. Seems common sense and logic is not their strong suite. We tried discussing with the manager, but it was to no avail.

Now we are preparing for a longer trip. We will be heading back to upstate NY to visit friends from when we were in Japan and seeing places we haven’t been to since we sold our house and moved in 2000. There are dear friends to see, places to visit, and memories to share. We will be gone a bit over a week.

Additional photos below
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View from camperView from camper
View from camper

Though there were no trees, the view of the bay and the wildlife made up for it. It was a lovely campsite, despite the rain.

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